South West Wales

Botulism outbreak kills cattle at Carmarthenshire farm

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Media captionHowell Richards said the herd were vaccinated against botulism once the disease was identified

At least 70 cows have died following an outbreak of botulism on a farm in Carmarthenshire.

It is believed the disease came from the carcass of a rotting animal in the grass silage the cattle at Cwrt Malle Farm were being fed.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has announced it has begun an investigation into the outbreak.

The super dairy in Llangynog, near Carmarthen, houses around 2,000 cattle.

Farm owner Howell Richards said the experience had been "unpleasant" but staff were now moving on.

He added the contaminated feed had been removed and the cattle had been replaced.

Distressing disease

Professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University Hugh Pennington said it was a distressing disease for the animals.

"The bug is a tough bug in the soil, it's very rare in humans, it's not spread from animals to humans, but it's very unpleasant for the animals because it's a powerful poison which actually paralyses the animals and if an animal is sick like that it has to go," he said.

"It's nothing to worry about from the human point of view at all, but clearly the agricultural people will be keeping a very close eye on this hoping this is not a problem that is going to get any worse."

The AHVLA said the disease is usually caused by animals coming into contact with the litter of broiler chickens and it can also affect sheep.

To prevent disease, farmers are advised to store litter securely, well away from livestock and prevent access to birds.

The organisation said it is notified about 20 incidents of the disease in the UK each year.

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